Space Shuttle Discovery Blasts Off On Final Mission

Last night, the Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off to begin its final mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It comes after an almost four-month delay due to cracks, leaks and inclement weather, but NASA still has two more major launches before the planned retirement of the space shuttle fleet. The shuttle now has a two-day journey to the ISS. Today, the crew will scan the shuttle's thermal protection system using an orbiter boom sensor system attached to the end of Discovery's robotic arm. While this is going on, astronauts Steve Bowen, Alvin Drew, and Nicole Stott will prep the spacesuits that will be transferred to the station after docking and used during the mission's two space-walks. The mission, known as STS-133, will be the 35th shuttle mission to the ISS. It will last for 11 days, and will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4, and provide critical spare components to the ISS. As well as its six astronauts Discovery will also have another passenger on board, Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space. Discovery's first lauch was on August 30, 1984 and it has since completed more than 30 successful missions, including the mission which put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

If the weather remains clear this evening you may well be able to see the Space Shuttle Discovery in Irish skies as it catches up with the International Space Station (currently orbiting Earth at approximately 17,500 mph). Get our your binoculars!


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